He reappeared five days later and told a sensational story of being abducted by aliens - a story that still courts speculation and controversy today.
A Strange Object in the Forest
Walton has to this day kept to his story, and has appeared in numerous media discussing his experience. However, his story has always been the subject of debate and speculation. It is one of the few examples of a UFO encounter where multiple witnesses were involved, and all involved in the earlier aspect of the story have proven that something happened in the woods near Snowflake, Arizona.
A then 22 year old Walton was, on the evening of Wednesday November 5th in 1975, returning to Snowflake with 6 other men, including their boss Mike Rogers, who was contracted by the United States Forest Service to thin out undergrowth and scrub bush from a large forest area. The crew were behind schedule and were working long hours to finish, working from dawn to dusk most days.
The men observed the object starting to make loud noise and "wobble" from side-to-side, and as the men shouted for Walton to return to the truck, Walton began walking backwards away from the object. It was then that the men watched in horror as Walton was struck by a blue-green ray shot from the disc, and was "risen a foot in the air and thrown backwards 3 metres, landing and sprawled limply.
Returning to town, they called the police and reported Walton missing, however it was later in the evening that the men fully divulged what they had witnessed. The police and some volunteers, as well as most of Rogers' crew, returned to the woods that night to search but found nothing.
Come daybreak police were becoming suspicious of the UFO story and suspected homicide.
By Saturday the 8th, the story had spread via international media, and Snowflake was inundated by reporters, ufologists and people curious about the where-abouts of Walton.
Just before midnight that night, Walton's' brother-in-law received a call at his home in a nearby town and rushed out of his house, picking up Duane Walton, Travis' brother. The call was from Travis, who had at first weakly said that he was at a nearby gas station and needed help before hysterically screaming that he was hurt. They found him at the gas station, in the second of three telephone booths, unshaven and considerably thinner. He was still wearing the same clothes he had disappeared in, and on the way back to Snowflake seemed anxious and afraid, speaking of "beings with terrifying eyes".
Upon learning he had been missing for nearly a week, he stopped talking altogether. Due to his weakened condition, Duane decided not to reveal Travis' return straight away, starting what many consider to be a cover-up of a possible hoax. Their mother was already garnering suspicion due to her behaviour in front of police, and it was thought that Travis may be hiding in her house.
The National Enquirer, an American tabloid magazine, wanted Walton to under-go a polygraph exam - one was arranged, and it is here that the story becomes more controversial and intriguing, as it is claimed that on this first initial exam Travis was concluded to be lying. The examiner - John J McCarthy - also claimed that Walton tried to cheat the exam. However it is claimed by many that the fact that Walton was still in a nervous, agitated state was not taken into consideration and that McCarthy had acted aggressively and unprofessionally towards Walton during the exam, thus hindering a conclusive result.
It was agreed that the results of this exam would be suppressed, however, months later the exam and its results would be made public and would shadow Walton and his credibility, although he has over the years taken a number of polygraph tests and has passed every one of them. Philip J Klass, a well known UFO sceptic, launched an immediate attack on Walton and his claims,always arguing up until his death in 2005 that Walton and Rogers had faked the events for financial reasons, and has even debated Walton and Rogers on Larry King Live.
Fire in the Sky
A man claiming to be an ex-military intelligence officer approached Walton during publicity for the movie, saying he was hunting in the woods with his wife the night of the UFO encounter in '75 and saw the attack on Walton. After undergoing a polygraph test, it was concluded that the man was deliberately lying and was trying to fool the polygraph. It has been theorised that the man was colluding with Klass in an effort to discredit Walton. Klass denied he had anything to do with the man and any deception on his part.
Walton has lived in Snowflake since his encounter and has had several children with Mike Rogers' sister. He has always maintained his story to be true, factual and appears regularly at UFO conventions.
What do you think happened in November in Snowflake, Arizona in 1975?
Hoax or was Travis Walton abducted by aliens?
Put together by Ashley Hall 2013